What's Ahead in 2014: January Newsletter

In my first month as your City Council Member, I am focused on making our schools better and our city government more transparent. We’re already working to assist members of our community with their needs – whether it’s helping you navigate local government or delivering meals to homebound seniors after following our first winter storm.

I have also been pushing, along with 30 other Members, a widespread reform of the City Council's rules, to make the Council a fairer body with less opaque processes. This will strengthen the Council, so it functions better on your behalf.

We have fights we must take on together: We will stand up against the Marine Transfer Station in Yorkville, a flawed and expensive proposal that will needlessly harm our community. And we are keeping a watchful eye on the progress of the Second Avenue Subway, due to be completed in December 2016. 

Our previous Council Member, Jessica Lappin, did so much for our community. I look forward to keeping up that progress, so we can keep improving our neighborhoods. If you'd like to meet in person, please stop by my office any time between 8 and 10AM on February 7th. I'll be hosting my first "First Friday" open house so we can get to know each other and discuss our ideas for a better city.

Below, I have compiled my monthly list of community information and events. I hope that it is useful to you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback. I look forward to being in close contact with you in the months and years ahead.

Council Member Ben Kallos
District Five:  Upper East Side, Midtown East, El Barrio and Roosevelt Island

1. New Office, Fresh Start
2. Inauguration at the 92nd St. Y
3. First Friday with Ben
4. Marriage
5. Get Involved in Your Community Board
6. HEAP Applications – Stay Warm at an Affordable Price
7. Touring the Second Avenue Subway
8. Winter Storm
9. Join a Policy Committee
10. Community Events

New Office, Fresh Start

My City Council District Office is now located at 244 East 93rd Street, off Second Avenue. Or, you can always call or email me at 212-860-1950 or bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com (bkallos)infoatbenkallos [dot] com (@benkallos.com). My office is your office: A community space for us all to share, so please feel free to come by any time. 
Inauguration at the 92nd St. Y

Please join us for my inauguration ceremony, with special guests Attorney General Schneiderman, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as other elected officials and community leaders with performances from community groups. It will take place at the 92nd Street Y, 1695 Lexington Avenue at Noon (doors open at 11:30AM). Please email RSVPatBenKallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950 to reserve your spot.

"First Friday" with Ben

Please join us for "First Friday with Ben" where you can join other members of the community in meeting with me in our district office at 244 East 93rd Street from 8:00AM to 10:00AM on Friday, February 7th. Please email RSVPatBenKallos [dot] com with the subject line "First Friday" to say you'll join us. I look forward to meeting you.

In December, I celebrated an important milestone: my marriage to a wonderful woman. As I move ahead in the important work before me, I am thrilled to have Irene by my side.

Get Involved in Your Community Board
For anyone who wants to connect with their community, Community Boards are currently accepting applications. This is a great way to stay informed on the issues and make a difference within your community. If you are interested, please download the application from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb9/downloads/pdf/cbnewapp2014.pdf.

I started out on Community Board 8, and found fulfillment participating in the issues and events that mattered to our community. For those interested in public service or simply in greater involvement in our community, I highly recommend the community board.
Applications are due on February 1st and must be postmarked or hand-delivered to the Manhattan Borough President's office. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact my office.
Help Keeping Warm
New Yorkers struggling to stay warm can apply for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits. HEAP is a federally funded program that seeks to help New Yorkers afford utilities during the winter. There are three different kinds of HEAP Benefits: Regular Benefit, Emergency Benefit and Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement. More information on HEAP’s benefits, guidelines and application process can be found at this link: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/.

Please contact my office at 212-860-1950 for assistance in completing your application. 
Touring the Second Avenue Subway

This month, I toured the underground construction of the Second Avenue Subway site. We have much work to do to ensure our residents are well taken care of as the construction continues until December 2016. Learning more about the project and seeing it firsthand emphasized how important this will be for our community. If you live along Second Avenue in an affected area, you can also take a tour of the construction. Learn more at the MTA's Second Avenue Subway site.
The next tour will take place on Saturday, February 22nd. A few spaces may open up on the 8:30AM tour, so please check back here in case: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tour-of-second-avenue-subway-february-22-2014-830-am-tickets-10152760179 

Be sure to sign up for community updates to stay abreast of tour information and more.

Winter Storms

Two winter storms ushered in 2014 abruptly, bringing with them icy winds and dangerous conditions. During Winter Storm Hercules, my staff and I joined Fire and Emergency Services Exploring Program and many other volunteers at the Stanley Isaacs Senior Center to deliver Citymeals-on-Wheels. That day, a sprinkler malfunctioned at the 80th Street Residence patient facility. I was on the scene to monitor the situation. Thanks to great work by city agencies like the Office of Emergency management, seniors stayed in place during repairs.  During Winter Storm Janus, our office was closely monitoring the traffic and sanitation circumstances. We will be working with other agencies to ensure rapid response to storms in the future, and appreciate both visit the Mayor's visit to see the conditions in our neighborhood and the extra resources invested in the clean-up efforts as a result. During emergencies, please always reach out to my office (212-860-1950), so we can be sure to assist you right away.

Join a Policy Committee

Are you looking to get involved in local issues? We need residents who are interested in advancing progressive and innovative agenda items, and who have the experience or enthusiasm to help formulate city policy, to join a district five policy committee run through our council office. Committees include education, youth, senior services, environment and more. Please email PWestrickatBenKallos [dot] com for more information or to express interest.

Community Events

1/25: Winter Jam
11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Central Park, Manhattan, Bandshell Area (Enter at 72nd Street) 

This free winter festival put on by the Parks department includes snowshoeing, cross country skiing, a Taste NY winter market and more. To learn more: http://nycgovparks.org/highlights/festivals/winter-jam

1/30: Transit Talks: The Development of the NYC Subway System

6:00 – 7:00PM, 1628 2nd Avenue
The MTA Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center (CIC) will be putting on a talk by historian Peter Derek on the history of the New York City transit system. To RSVP or for more information, please call (646) 449-8700 or visit https://transittalks4.eventbrite.com

2/1: Community Board Applications Due

Your Community Board Applications must be postmarked or hand-delivered by February 1, 2014. If you are considering getting involved, you are welcome to call my office at 212-860-1950 or email us at infoatbenkallos [dot] com to discuss further. Please click here for a copy of the application.

2/3, Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits Workshop hosted by Lenox Hill Neighborhood House 
11 a.m. to Noon: Senior Center at St Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street.
2/ 6, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.: the Center at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 343 East 70th Street.
The Legal Advocacy and Organizing Team is hosting a series of workshops to help you navigate the benefits system. February’s workshops will focus on SNAP benefits. To learn more: http://www.lenoxhill.org/content/news-and-events/index.html#events
2/7: "First Friday" with Ben

8-10AM, 244 E 93rd Street, Come meet your City Council Member with questions, ideas, concerns or just a desire to mingle. Email RSVPatBenKallos [dot] com with subject line "First Friday."
2/7: Computer Basics for Seniors, Roosevelt Island Library
524 Main Street, 10:30AM 
The Roosevelt Island Public Library will be having a class called Computer Basics for Seniors for adults 50 and over. You can ask technology questions and receive personal instruction. For more information: http://www.nypl.org/locations/tid/63/node/240265?lref=63%2Fcalendar 

If you would like your event included in a newsletter, please email bkallosatkallosforcouncil [dot] com (bkallos@b)bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com (enkallos.com) to be listed.